Stop Blowing Hot (and Cold) Air

Brett Freeman

If you live in an older home, making green renovations isn't just about saving the environment: it can also be about saving money. One of the best ways to go green is to make your home more efficient so that it uses less energy. With energy prices hovering near record levels, tackling these projects now makes ecological and economic sense.

Don't Let Your Windows Break You
Did you know that you can tell if a window is open in most new homes by closing the front door? Gently push the door toward the frame and let it go. If it latches, there's a window open somewhere. This trick works because most new homes are tightly sealed. If all of the windows are closed, the air that the door pushes into the house as it closes can't escape and pushes back, preventing the door from latching.

Your older house doesn't have this problem. Your front door probably swings shut easily. And that's a problem because it indicates that air escapes your home easily. Air that you pay to heat in the winter and pay to cool in the summer is escaping easily, much of it through your old, leaky windows, whether they're closed or not. One way to prevent this loss is to install replacement windows that will seal these leaks. But while undoubtedly the best remedy, replacement windows are also the most expensive. You can achieve nearly the same result by installing good quality storm windows at about a third of the cost of replacement windows.

Seal the Trim
If you've never seen a door or window installed, it goes something like this: a big hole is cut in the house; the window or door frame is put in this hole and nailed into place; trim is installed along the edges to cover the edges of the hole. True, insulation of some sort is usually installed along the outer edges of the door or window, but in an older house there is still almost certainly air escaping through the door and window trim. Remedy this by applying caulk where the trim meets the wall, effectively sealing any leaks.

Don't Blow Your Top

Heat rises, meaning that in winter, your home is likely losing a lot of heat through the attic. You can prevent a lot of this heat loss by installing a radiant barrier--a flexible, reflective material sold in rolls--over your attic insulation. This barrier will block heat from coming into the attic from your home. In the summer, it does the opposite, reflecting heat away from your home and back outdoors.

You may never seal your older home to the point where you can use the front door to check for open windows, but you can dramatically increase its efficiency and save hundreds of dollars a year in heating and cooling costs to boot.

About the author
Brett Freeman is a freelance journalist. He also owns a landscaping and irrigation company in North Carolina. Previously he has worked as a beat reporter, a teacher, and for a home improvement company, and he used to own a bar/live music venue.

About the Author
Brett Freeman is a freelance journalist. He also owns a landscaping and irrigation company in North Carolina. Previously he has worked as a beat reporter, a teacher, and for a home improvement company, and he used to own a bar/live music venue.


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